HOUSTON -- Left-hander Matt Moore has been used mainly as a starter for the Rangers this season, while right-hander Jesse Chavez has been used exclusively in relief.
The Rangers may have to consider flipping their roles after Moore's trials and tribulations continued in a 6-1 loss to the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The Rangers' only run came on a home run by Carlos Perez in the eighth inning.
Moore gave up three runs over three innings in his shortest start of the season. He faced 18 batters and allowed nine to reach base on six hits and three walks. Moore, who struck out five, also threw 72 pitches, which comes out to an unsustainable 24 per inning.
Moore still felt he had the best stuff he's had in a game since his only win of the season against the Rays on April 17.
"The stuff coming out today felt like the swing-and-miss stuff," Moore said. "The fastballs were getting swung through, the changeups -- I had thrown four or five breaking balls, not many -- but that type of stuff was encouraging. I felt like I had good stuff heading into [the game]."
Chavez took over in the fourth and delivered three scoreless innings while striking out four. The only baserunner reached on an error by third baseman Adrian Beltre. After a rough start to the season, Chavez has a 3.19 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over his last nine relief appearances.
"I thought Chavez threw the ball extremely well," Banister said. "It was a very competitive outing, one we have seen from him in the past. It was a good positive day for him.
The Rangers signed Chavez with the possibility he could be used as either a starter or reliever. He threw 40 pitches on Sunday, so he is not that far removed from being stretched out as a starter if the Rangers are inclined to make a switch.
"We'll continue to evaluate that," Banister said. "I'm not in a position to make a decision at this time."
Moore started the day with two scoreless innings, although he had to strand two runners in each frame. He ran into trouble in the third because he started falling behind in counts.
Alex Bregman began the inning with a walk, and then Carlos Correa worked the count full and was able to get Bregman to third on a hit-and-run groundout to Beltre. Bregman scored on a single by Yuli Gurriel. Marwin Gonzalez was also able to work the count full and move Gurriel to second on a hit-and-run grounder to Beltre.
Evan Gattis followed with a high fly ball to left that landed in the seats for a two-run home run.
"The first couple of innings were really good," Banister said. "In the third inning, he started working from behind, missing out over the plate, deep counts. Lost a little bit of the delivery. The execution wasn't where it needed to be in the third inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Beltre exits: Beltre had to come out of the game in the seventh inning after re-aggravating his strained left hamstring. The Rangers have not made a final decision, but it appears that Beltre may go back on the disabled list.
Beltre injured the hamstring trying to get an out at third on Max Stassi's grounder during the Astros' three-run rally.
"Obviously a concern," Banister said. "We'll know more when we get to Seattle. With Adrian, anything is possible. He's been in these situations many times in his career. He's managed them very well." More >
The Rangers had just three runs on 15 hits during their three-game series with the Astros. Two of the three runs scored on solo home runs by Ronald Guzman and Perez. They drew just three walks and struck out 39 times.
"You have to play well against this team," Banister said. "Obviously, their starting pitching can make it extremely tough on you. We have to play them and we have to find a way to be better."
HE SAID IT
"Obviously, I have been preparing for a long time. I thought I was going to be nervous, but I felt at peace and calm out there." -- Rangers pitcher Brandon Mann, on his Major League debut
• Mann makes debut 16 years after being drafted
Left-hander Mike Minor will be on the mound for the Rangers when they open up a two-game series against the Mariners at 9:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Safeco Field. Minor pitched against the Mariners on April 20 in Arlington and allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings, earning a no-decision. Since then, he is 2-1 with a 5.68 ERA in his last three starts. Right-hander Mike Leake is scheduled to start for the Mariners.